Ask Jo: Masks and Religion

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days. 

First off I want to thank everyone for using the Amazon link at the top of the right hand column on the blog.  As I’ve told you before, Amazon pays me a tiny percentage of your sales…and I really appreciate all of you who are using that link.  I so appreciate it as the money made there is used to help offset the costs of running the blog.

About Masks:
I recently put this picture up on Instagram and Facebook.


I got another flood of questions and comments:
What tutorial did you use?  This one.

Here is a LINK if you can’t view it in this post.

I also ended up with floods of other comments so I’m going to address some:

This is the mask (person gives me an example) I am making.  Is it the “right” mask?  I don’t know.  Is it the “wrong” mask?  I don’t know.  Is there a “better” mask?  YES.  There are better masks the N95 but, as we know, they aren’t always available.

Is it good to wear these masks?  I don’t know.  I figure it can’t hurt.  Should everyone be wearing them?  I don’t know.  The news is starting to make it sound like everyone going out might need to be wearing them.

What do you do if you run out of elastic? Make ties.  How long do you make them?  I don’t know. Every pattern is different.  Try the mask on and see what you think.  I can’t make a recommendation as I don’t know which mask you  are making.  I make mine the width of fabric.  One for each side.

I’ve heard I need to make them with a non woven.  Well to be honest I don’t really know what that is.  I don’t really know that it is available.  People have guessed.  Which guess is right?  I don’t know.

I’ve been told make them with batik fabric, it has a tighter weave.  That might be true…has it been tested and it’s factual based?  I don’t know.  It sounds good in theory.

I’ve been told the masks I’m making are so complicated.  Well I want mine to stand up and be washable and reusable so I’m making them like the tutorial….is it the right choice?  I don’t know.

I’ve been asked to make a pocket in them so…I have.  Do you need to make them with a pocket?  I don’t know.  Is it the best choice?  I don’t know.

I’ve been told the tutorial I’m using it to hard.  I’m sorry.  Find one that fits your needs.  I’ve been told this design or that design is better….Maybe it is.  Find one that fits your own needs.

I’ve been told that this hospital or that hospital wants this or that style.  Well then I’m not the person to be making them for that facility as I’m making the style in the youtube tutorial I linked.  Someone else can make them for the hospital.

I’ve heard make them with elastic.  I’ve heard “no, don’t make them with elastic because of ear fatigue”.  People wearing the masks get sore ears from wearing them all day as the elastic rubs.  Who knows what to do or listen to?  Not me.

I’ve been told “your fabric is so cute…I don’t have cute fabric like that”.  Seriously, if someone NEEDS a mask, I really don’t think they care about fabric.  There is no “proper fabric print”.

I’ve heard I must make them from two different pieces of material so the people using them can figure out how to put them on and know what is the front and what is the backside.  Mine have a pocket on the backside, I’m sure someone can figure it out.  But if that’s what you want to do, go for it.

People send me links to articles about “their” mask.  (a “better” one)  People are constantly sending me suggestions and comments.  Me, I smile and nod.

I’m going to go off on a little tangent here so beware.  I’ll come back around and link the two things PROMISE.  Here goes:
When I was growing up my sister belonged to a church that believed the Sabbath (or day of worship) was on Saturday.  They believed the Sabbath was from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.  My mom was leary and questioned it all the time.

My sister and my mom argued about it ALL OF THE TIME.  My mom went through calendars and calendars from ancient times trying to figure out which is “THE” 7th day for us all to resting on.  I remember long discussions on when leap years were added to calendars.  Seriously, many of my childhood memories are of the two of them at the kitchen table with piles of paper between them as they argued and discussed this.

As a 12 year old listening to this all I came to this decision and I’ve stuck with this decision all of my life:
If God wants me, he’s going to have to accept me as I am.  I did not have the ability to understand all they are talking and arguing about.  I didn’t know that I ever would.  If God is so mean and not understanding of my ability to try hard, and not get it right, maybe I’m not the person for him.  I wanted to be the person for him….but maybe if God wanted perfection, I wasn’t his girl.

…and that’s how I came to understand GRACE and acceptance…through the arguing between my mom and my sister over something to this day I still believe there is not way to prove a right or wrong.

This GRACE has served me well through the years.  I’ve applied it to many things beyond God and religion.


I laughed.  I saw someone say they spent the whole day watching Youtube videos trying to find “the best” method.  Sad but true, one size does not fit all…there is no “best”.  Just jump in and make them if you wish. Don’t make them if you don’t want to.  Follow the exact guidelines for the facility or people you are making them for if you want.  Don’t use the tutorial I’m using…do use the tutorial I’m using.  DO IT YOUR WAY.  If the people don’t like the method you are using in making them, give them to someone else.  Seriously…there is no way to get this perfect so just SEW ON with grace.

44 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Masks and Religion

  1. Mary Ann Mettler

    Love it! Keep up the lovely sewing. I have heard the best use of a mask is to help you to remember not to touch your face. Thanks for helping.

  2. sewhappy

    thank-you. I kind of said that on a facebook post today. I did not want people stop sewing masks just because one hospital wants two different colors. Like you, I found a pattern that works for me. Made some with ties. Found some elastic so the next batch will have elastic. Making ties for me was slow. I found a small hospital who is loving the simple masks for the level 1 risk use. Their parent hospital will also use homemade masks for level one risks situations now because everyone has to use masks now. To others Don’t over think this. Any masks will come in handy some place. Happy Sewing. .

  3. CindyD

    Excellent post! I resisted for awhile but made one with elastic yesterday that didn’t fit my face. Tried one with ties today and it’s much better. I think part of it is that sewing them and wearing them makes you feel like you are doing something.

  4. Sally Safranski

    THANK YOU! I got so confused by all the questions and observations and opinions and bickering that I just shut down and said I’ll just keep making quilts. When I was able to get a specific request from a specific organization (in this case, the pattern requested by a nursing home facility) I was able to get back in the game, made and donated 25, and came to the conclusion that I’d rather keep making charity quilts. Except for a few for family members.

    Your theology of grace is right on, too! The God that I know made me as I am, warts (and extra pounds) and all. He blessed me with talents and resources unique to me and asked me to carry THAT cross, not the cross of another.

    On a generous day, I chalk all the questions and all the strong opinions of what is right and what is wrong to our need to try to find some control in this situation. When I can bring in grace (and turn off the social media) I can get back to what I do best – make quilts! That is grace.

  5. Nancy

    I spent a good bit of time reading about making masks, trying to sort through what would be “the best.” It was overwhelming to me. I decided to make two different patterns. I had fun with it, giving them to some of my friends. One of my friends asked me if I would make some for the nursing home where she works. We talked about what they needed, and what she thought would be important. I made 15 of them. Her co-workers love them.
    We are making a few adjustments and now I am making some more. I like the feeling of doing something useful especially in these times. I didn’t like the stress of figuring out what was “the best.”

  6. Elle

    People are funny creatures. I make my masks like the ones I wore for 39 years in surgery. No one has complained ;-)

    I’d take it as a compliment that you are revered as a sewing Leader!!!!

    Thank you for making masks Jo. Everyone else as well.

  7. Ana Sweet

    As usual, you hit the nail right on the head. There is no best, there is no perfect. There is only what we can do the best we can do with our own efforts. Thank you Jo for a great blog post.

  8. Carolyn Terry

    Hang in there Jo. We just can’t please everyone, so for the past few years of my life I try to please myself. I have friends that don’t want to make masks. If their isn’t I it, then they probably shouldn’t. I feel I have the resources, I certainly have the time right now. Like you Jo, my daughter works in the health care industry. I can not imagine sending my son into battle without some protection, nor can I imagine sending my daughter to work without protection. For myself, I had to make face masks, or in would haunt me. I have taken a break from making them. it is easier to make charity quilts. I will go back to making them. The rules change daily. Two large companies started making them in our area, and they can make thousands a day compared to my 20-25. Then I found out they were selling them. Designer face masks???? Seriously. Then I found out about a local gal, with volunteer sewist making them at no profit. Bless her heart. Love you and your blog.

  9. Carolyn in Michigan

    I have been unable to find elastic. So as an alternative I am using and making my own T-shirt yarn. Easy, soft, and we all have old tshirts. I found several tutorials on Pintrest. Might be even better than elastic! I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way…just doing something with the skills and materials we have is what we do.

  10. Colleen

    Yes. And you can do what our group Of over 500 volunteers in NC is doing. Following guidelines and recommended pattern by the hospitals and medical centers who have requested the masks. In a week and a half we have famed over 6000 to fill requests from medical and emergency personnel and have over 11,000 requests and counting. Our big goal this second part of the week is 5000 masks for a major medical center. These are not being used in high risk situations but are being used in low risk to save the other masks for the high risk. Look to Facebook in your area. There are groups all over.

  11. Christine aay

    Thanks, Jo, for these wonderful common sense comments. I’m with you all the way. Hang in there!

  12. Paula

    And the person who spent the entire day watching videos trying to find the perfect mask lost hours of time that could have been spent making masks, dozens of masks! Thanks for helping us all see how we can do better by being less concerned about “best” and “right.”

  13. Lorraine

    Amen, Jo! I made seven masks today. All I know is that it is the most depressing thing I ever sewed.

    Please, people, quit driving bloggers nuts.

  14. DebMac

    I researched masks as I have a sister with asthma who is a nurse. I made 3 styles with 5 versions all together and had her critique them. Her main complaint; they are not wide and deep enough and she voted hands down for ties as elastic has just too much variance. Her hospital is not allowing outside masks as yet but we plan on a supply for her to use on her geriatric floor to allow for changing between patients. She will pass on the ones that don’t work for her. Both her daughters, our brother and his daughter have all requested masks. I don’t live near any of them and can’t see them any way to fit them. I will make them to the best of my ability in a couple styles for what their needs are. I saw a study that vacuum cleaner bags and tea towels are the best filters if you can’t get the N95 ones. Only you can’t breathe very well through the vacuum bag and know one knows just what they mean by a tea towel. However the study recommends high count cotton sheets and t-shirts because they have better breatheability. If you can’t breathe, you won’t wear it. God works in mysterious ways, I had a sheet develop a hole that day so it’s becoming mask filters. Not N95 but it helps. Made with love and prayer so as my dad (the farmer) used to say “I do my best and it’s up to God to do the rest”. God certainly knows what is in our hearts and all we can do is the best with what we have.

  15. Colleen

    I have made over 60 now. I went to my stash and have been using bias tape and twill tape that has been here a very long time. I feel like that is better for the ears and I get rid of it. I have given some to the county health dept as they asked for them.

  16. Cindy F

    I was one of those people who couldn’t figure out what mask to make. I looked at many videos and made 3 different types. My brother-in-law requested some so I started making the same one you are however he requested elastic. The only thing different is I made a “button hole” on the back side of the mask so the pipe cleaner can be removed and replaced. And since he asked I wondered about the rest of the family and low and behold everyone wants one so I will be in production for the next several days working on them and mailing them out. I think we’ll be seeing more and more people wear them as the thinking on them has changed. I’ve always been a believer though!

  17. Shirley

    I also made masks that were going to a doctor’s office and made what they said would work for them. A friend asked me how I was making the masks as she wanted to make some. I told her how the masks I made were going to be used. She then proceeded to tell me that I was making them all wrong lol. Like you said different strokes for different folks:)

  18. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, concerning religion ,people who get contentious just ruin their testimony. You came to a good conclusion. God said to be at peace with all men. I like how you stated your opinion. Grace does cover a lot of mistakes.
    I’ve been making mass both woven and non woven. I like working with fabric best the non woven is slick and you can’t use pins on it. It should be safer though. I found a tutorial that works for me. I looked at several that spent more time talking without giving information
    such as size and how to. I found one where they didn’t talk just put up the dimensions and how to make them. Short simple and fits anyone

  19. Miss Daisy

    Sometimes I think the blind are leading the blind. Y’all need to look out for the ditch.

  20. BeverlyD

    Thank you for your wise words. I belong to 2 different groups of women, with women from each making masks. Different patterns, different rules. I started to make some, but found that my heart was not in it. Each one took me an hour, I think because it was not resonating. Here’s where my guilt comes in: I am a retired Nurse Practitioner, with previous experience as an ICU RN. Why can’t I get on this bandwagon? I don’t know. Your words have given me permission to forgive myself, and make the charity quilts that I believe make a true difference in people’s lives.

  21. Mary

    I discovered you just today. This is the first blog post of yours that I have read. I LOVE everything about it! Grace is my favorite word. Grace in my faith, grace in my sewing, grace with other people. I love your honesty. Thanks for your words. I really needed to read them today.

  22. Sue

    Jo-I love this post. It applies to so many situations in life. Thank you for the perspective. My sister and I are both making mask, she is using a different style than me. Guess what? All the recipients are grateful to receive either one! I tried elastic and ties, ties were preferred by my NP daughter ( but some of her coworkers prefer the elastic). I am now cutting up t-shirts into 1 1/2 inch strips across the t-shirt. I then snip one side seam open and pull the one long strip through each side casing of the mask, with a loop on the bottom side. The wearer slips the bottom loop side over their head, pulls the mask snug against their face (the ties slide in the casing) and tie once at the back. Easy peasy, I don’t have to make ties! and it’s a little stretchy. BTW- I am using your mask tutorial and it is favored by my family. THANK YOU for you.

  23. Andrea OBrien

    Amen, and AMEN! Since I committed to making masks, I promised to make them with better materials, so I went on a quest to find what I think will be better. But even then, I have been criticized AND praised for my efforts. I just want to help, and if by making masks that I believe are better based on everything I read (and I did spent the better part of a weekend researching), then so be it. I know those that receive the 60+ I have made SO FAR will be grateful.

  24. Jo Post author

    I will admit Beverly, making the masks is hard. It takes a bit of a mental toll on me not to get depressed while I am doing it. I’ve learned to cut a bunch and work a step each day rather than go in full production. It’s totally okay if you aren’t making any.

  25. Ann Marie Burton

    Nailed it! I’m only making masks for two of my friends (one ER nurse, one nurse midwife) They needed slightly different options on their masks, but both wear hearing aids, so ties it is! What they can’t use, they pass on…and I quilt in between for my sanity.

  26. imaward

    Our son is a nurse practitioner and is working like crazy. He asked me to make them masks for his work. He said a cloth mask is 98% better than nothing… (his words… not a study) I tripled the fabric with flannel on the inside. He asked that they all be stringed on the corners. I used parachute cord, which is a little slick when tying it. But I cut them 18″ long for each corner. My starting square is 8″ up and down and 9″ across .
    I put 3 pleats in so the finished size up and down is about 5″… The pleats allow for longer faces and they can be pulled out as needed. I agree to everything that Jo said above. I appreciate every mask that is make. Its better than nothing and our Medical staff truly appreciates them! I also laid a small piece of fabric of the corner when I sewed the string in to reinforce the corners. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

  27. Lisa

    Thanks Jo! DITTO! I am so sick and tired of all of the above myself. I do me. But one thing in your questions about the batik fabric. That is a misconception that keeps spreading in the quilting world about batiks having a tighter weave. No they do not!!!!! People come to that assumption when sewing with batiks especially when quilting it. Batiks are made with wax in the dying process. That wax is not washed out during that process of making the batiks. We buy them and they still have a ton of wax in them. The wax is what makes it difficult to quilt through and some folks just don’t know how batiks are made so they assume the weave is tighter when actually it is wax that makes it seem tighter. Please help spread the truth about batiks. I also get sick and tired of all the misconceptions in the quilting world by newer quilters. I do a lot of shaking my head. I do me, yet I do try to educate what is really going on as in the batiks. The masks..what a can of worms that is. LOL!

  28. Carla B.

    Spectacular editorial. First, Grace is precious and wonderful. Such a nugget of wisdom to find Grace and then to use it daily.

    Second, I’m a registered nurse and honestly if I was still working, I would be thankful for any mask. In my opinion, the style is not important as nurses would be able to adapt within an hour or two wearing one. Do want to add that I have retired following 53 years in my career. That being said, I wouldn’t hesitate a minute if nurses were called back in my area. Lol, know I’m not up to the demands of a Traveling Nurse.

  29. SanD

    The batiks I buy have a higher thread count than most quilting cottons, plus the batik production process shrinks/tightens the weave even more.

  30. Virginia Grenier

    Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 

    The question God has for everyone is what did you do with my Son? Did you reject Him or accept Him as your Savior? Do you believe He died for your sins so you can have eternal life? It has nothing to do with days and laws – that’s Old Testament.

  31. Dot Brooker

    Hi Jo, Dot from New Zealand again.
    How wonderful we have you as our “go to person” with repetitive questions which make me shake my head!
    Your grace in answering is amazing. Thank you. As a support worker I wear homemade masks to protect my lovely seniors from my change of season drippy nose! Haven’t worked out how to wash and cream backs from 2 metre distance. Made them some masks too, floral for gardeners, butterflies by request, fabric with cards for the bridge players – and how they laughed. May not be used, the laugh worth the small effort. As we go into autumn with cooler mornings, they do make excellent nose and chin warmers! Thanks for your graceful and honest comments Jo.

  32. Barbara

    You can’t please everyone. It seems like those that do, do and those that don’t complain. Keep up the good work. You are rocking those masks.

  33. Angie in Socal

    Only God is perfect and all love. Us – he loves us anyway.

    I’m making a mask that I have all the parts of. No plastic – ties.

    Thank you, Jo, for a sane voice.

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  35. Lori Bonjour

    Dear Jo,
    First time I have come across your blog. Love your comment about Grace!! I’m making mine similar to yours, used elastic until I ran out, now doing ties. The way I look at it, however we all decide to make them is neither right or wrong. People will be thankful for having something rather than nothing!!

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